Thursday, October 29, 2015

Deutschland and Italia with Mom and Sis

This past June, my mom and sister, Kari, were able to come spend a couple of weeks with us in Germany!  This was Mom's second visit here and Kari's third.  We spent a good amount of time enjoying our local area, and we also took a trip to Tuscany, which has been on my Mom's bucket list since I spent time there in college and fell in love with it!  We all had a wonderful time together, visiting new and favorite places.

First order of business; schnitzel mit pommes!

We left for Tuscany just a couple of days after they arrived to take advantage of Kyle's four day break.  It was an easy hour and a half flight on a little prop jet to Florence!

Auf Wiedersehen Deutschland, buongiorno Italia!

Our main destination of the trip was the Tuscan hill towns, but we couldn't fly into Florence without taking a stroll through it's gorgeous streets. I just love that city.

The best gelato in Florence from Gelateria La Carraia

We arrived to our hotel by rental car that evening.  It was a beautiful, historic property set in the Tuscan countryside.  We had a delicious dinner at the hotel's restaurant that evening.  It was a perfect first day in Tuscany!

We started our hill town tour the next day in the quaint town of Cortona.  Kyle and I had not been to Cortona before, so it was new to us as well!  Cortona is the town where the book/movie Under the Tuscan Sun takes place.  We were all pretty enchanted by the narrow, cobblestone streets and sunny little piazzas.  We kept wandering higher up the hill until we reached an old medieval church overlooking the countryside.

Our second hill town of the day was another new one for Kyle and I; Montepulciano, producer of Tuscany's famous red wine, Montepulciano. It was another beautiful little town.  Of course, Kyle and I couldn't visit there without doing some tasting of the delish dry red wine.  

Throughout our trip and their time in Germany, Kyle shot some of Kari's senior pictures.  (My senior pictures were shot in Greenwood, Indiana...) They turned out beautifully.  You can check out all of them on Kyle's Flickr page.

Our last stop of the day was the small town of Pienza, the birthplace of Pope Pius II.  He had his birthplace rebuilt as the ideal Rennaissance town, and it still looks idealistic.  The town and region is also known for their pecorino cheese, so we did some tasting and picked some up to have with our wine back at our apartment.

Day two of our Tuscan hill town tour started in Volterra, another new town for Kyle and I.  We absolutely loved Volterra, not just for it's quaintness and beauty, but also for the food!  There were too many good looking pastry shops to pass up, so pastries became our lunch!

Etruscan Acropolis ruins, dating back to the 5th century BC

Our next stop was in San Gimignano, which I fell in love with back in college.  It's definitely crowded with tourists, but it's easy to see why.  It's such a picturesque town with it's medieval "skyscrapers," abundant art and history, and cafe lined piazzas.

The smell of pizza from the delicious RiccaPizza was too good to pass up!

Our third stop of the day was the tiny hill fortress town of Monteriggioni. It's such a cute, quiet little town completely surrounded by fortress walls.  The whole town seems like it consists of about four streets, but it's definitely worth a stop!

After our hill town visits, we went back to our apartment to rest before heading to Sienna for our last dinner in Tuscany.  Sienna is a gorgeous town that warrants much more time than we were able to spend there, but it was the perfect place to spend our last evening in Tuscany!  It was so neat to be there at dusk and to walk through the quiet and deserted streets that normally are crowded with day-trippers.  We had a wonderful dinner there at Antica Trattoria Papei.  The server there was so friendly and treated us like family.  It was the perfect way to end our Tuscan holiday!

Kari taught us how to "squad up" before dinner.

When we got back to Germany, Kyle had to head back to work, so we entertained ourselves.  We enjoyed the local weekly market in Tübingen, walking Gizmo, and cooking tasty meals together at home.  We also ventured into the Black Forest a couple of times.  We went to a place called the Baumwipfelpfad for a lovely tree top walk.  There were some fun things to walk across along the way.  The walk ended at a huge lookout tower with a curly-cue slide to get down!  Out of the three of us, I was the only one not to injure myself on the slide!  (Of course it was nothing too serious :-) From there, we hiked five kilometers to a nice little restaurant in the forest. It was such a cute little place in peaceful surroundings!

Tree top selfie!

The Waldgaststätte Grünhütte, a perfect lunch place for hikers!
 When we went back to the forest several days later, the temperatures started rising, beginning Stuttgart's miserable stretch of 30 days in a row over 90 degrees, which is not common at all in Germany!  Luckily, it wasn't that hot most of the time during their trip!  We checked out a fun rodelbahn, which is kind of like a self-controlled roller coaster/alpine slide.  Mom was able to go twice before her stomach made her stop.  Kari and I each rode about 8 times.  It was a lot of fun!  We were not happy at all when we got stuck behind a slow poke and had to put on the breaks! We went to check out the Black Forest open air museum after that, which showcases many historic homes from the Black Forest area.

A blue slushy was just what we need after sitting in the hot sun on the rodelbahn!

Another day, we also drove about an hour and a half south to check out Rhine Falls, Switzerland.  It's a beautiful spot on the Rhine river where there are huge cascades and waterfalls, all overlooked by a castle. It's a nice place to stroll around!

Switzerland selfie!
You can't visit Germany without going to a castle, so we went to the nearby Hohenzollern castle.  It is such a perfect looking castle, perched high on a hill overlooking scenic countryside.  Kari and I re-enacted our cousin's proposal which took place at Hohenzollern when they visited a couple of Christmas's ago.

Kyle had another set of four days off near the end of Mom and Kari's time here.  Kari had been wanting to visit a concentration camp, so we went to see Dachau, which is just outside of Munich.  It is a very interesting place to visit.  It's horrible to imagine what took place there, but the display is not nearly as haunting as what you would see at Auschwitz.

After spending a couple of hours at Dachau, we went to take a quick walk around Munich.  We ate a delicious lunch at the Ayinger Wirtshaus, and then took a walk around to see some of the highlights of Munich.  We really did not have the time to do it justice, but we saw what we could in such a short time!

We spent another afternoon taking an easy hike to see the pretty waterfalls near the quaint town of Bad Urach.  It was hot that day, so we followed that up with some much needed gelato in town!

I made Kari climb to visit those ruins with me her first time here!

Such a cute little town!
While Mom and Kari were here, they got to meet some of our friends.  Our good friends, Jacob and Ashley had their third child, so the big brother and sister came to hang out with us while Jacob and Ashley were in the hospital.  We had a great time!  We went to Stuttgart's beautiful Killesberg park, took a walk to the little park in our town, built a fire outside, and played "nibble toes" with the koi fish in our pond!  While we were out having fun, Kyle ended up having to have a tooth pulled!  Not cool!

Gizmo found this little guy just outside of his reach!  

Kari and I love a good playground :-)

We also had our friends, the Messers, over for dinner before they headed back to the States.  (That's one of the hard parts about being here! People always have to leave!)  Mom and Kari made the mistake of asking how they could help with dinner, and they ended up squeezing about 30 limes for me!  (The key lime pie and lime marinade on the pork was delicious!)

We miss you!  Hope you come back soon!

We had such a fun time having Mom and Kari here!  We saw some really special places, as well as new and some old favorites.  We also were able to take it easy a bit and spend some time living real life in Germany.  Gizmo really misses long walks with my mom!  We're already looking forward to more adventures next time!

1 comment:

  1. Those are beautiful, fantastic pictures! Remind me of cherished memories of Italy for sure.